This initiative is based on an MOU to establish the Strategic Talent Center (“STC”) as a platform that engages with the private sector. STC is the mechanism that assesses foreign experts in digital technology and sciences who wish to live and work in Thailand. The applicant must be employed by a Thai employer such as a limited liability company, but there is no restriction in regards to registered capital or numbers of employees. The company should apply for the qualification / expertise recognition through STC, who will then refer the application to the relevant officials for final evaluation. Once the application is accepted, they will then be granted an annual visa and work permits.
Experts who have been accepted by STC will receive visa and work permit benefits, even if they do not work in a BOI-promoted company. Moreover, STC-recognized foreign experts can access services at the One Stop Service Center for Annual Visa and Work Permit, usually reserved for BOI-promoted companies.
Additionally, the government accepts the principle of four-year visa-free grants and free work permits under a new scheme labelled the “Smart Visa”. The visa is targeted to industry experts and foreign technology investors. Currently, foreigners in Thailand must report to authorities every 90 days. Under the “Smart Visa” scheme, holders will be required to report to the immigration bureau only once a year. This visa will be extendible to family members.
The scheme is still in a testing stage and is undergoing an impact study. The government plans to issue and enforce the “Smart Visa” by next year.
The plan was first proposed in March 2016, in order to attract investment and talented foreign workers. The government has stated that the new visa is intended to facilitate knowledge transfer to boost business growth in Thailand, and lead to long-term economic development. Under the current structure, foreign investors and experts are offered visa grants up to two years.
Applications for the new “Smart Visa” may be accepted as soon as January 2018. To keep up to date on developments and for more information about setting up a business in Thailand, please contact [email protected]